Manuscript (Lat. manu scriptum, written with the hand), in bibliography, a written book or document, in distinction from a printed one. (For the various materials that have been used for this purpose, see Book, Paper, and Papyrus.) In form, ancient manuscripts were either rolls (volumina) or flat pages like our printed books (codices). The Egyptian papyri are usually in rolls of an indefinite length, according to the subject matter, but some of the smaller ones are flat. Leaves of parchment were sometimes interspersed with papyrus leaves to strengthen the latter. Parchment and vellum manuscripts also were originally in rolls, but codices were made as early as the 3d and 4th centuries. The pages of the latter are usually quarto, rarely folio or octavo. Some of the oldest are square, but they are generally a little higher than broad. The manuscripts of the Mexicans were sometimes in rolls, but more generally in book form, the paper, which was continuous, being folded like a chart, with a tablet or cover of wood at each end. As the writing was on one side only, each page could thus be referred to separately, as in a modern book. - The transcribing of manuscripts was committed by the Greeks and Romans principally to slaves, who were esteemed of great value when they excelled in the art.
They are called by Horace scriptores librarii, and in later times antiquarii. Becker thinks that the latter term was applied, after the cursive ivriting came into use, to those who copied books in the old uncial characters. There were also at Rome professional copyists, some of whom were women. About the 5th century associations of scribes, who worked under stringent rules, were formed. In the middle ages copying was almost exclusively in the hands of ecclesiastics, who were called clerks (clerici). In all the principal monasteries a room called scriptorium was devoted to the scribm or scriptores, where they could pursue their work in quiet. The text was sometimes read aloud by a dictator. The manuscript when finished was corrected by one appointed for the purpose, and it then passed into the hands of the miniator, who added the ornamental capitals and other embellishments. The earliest form of illumination was the use of different colored inks. The Egyptian papvri are generally written in red and black, but some are ornamented with other colors and with gilding, and some with vignettes, many of which are remarkable for the delicacy' and beauty of their execution.
In the vellum manuscripts of the 4th and 5th centuries the initial letters, the first words, or the first three or four lines of books are often in red ink, while the body of the work is in black. Other colors, as purple, blue, green, and cinnabar, were used early, and sometimes the entire manuscript was written in gold or silver letters on purple, blue, or rose-colored parchment. One of the most interesting examples of this is the Argenteus Codex in the lihrary of the university of Upsal, written in silver letters, with the initials in gold, on violet-colored vellum. (See Argenteis Codex.) The Codex Aureus of the royal library at Stockholm is a Latin manuscript of the Gospels, written in Gothic characters of gold on leaves of vellum alternately white and violet; it belongs to the 6th century. In the earlier Greek and Latin manuscripts there was no distinction of initial letters, but after the 4th century the first letters of books and chapters, and sometimes of each page, were made larger than the body of the letters, and were frequently profusely ornamented in design and color. In the 6th and 7th centuries initial letters were one or two inches high, and from the 7th to the 10th century were often a foot high, covering nearly the whole page.
The Irish manuscripts of this period exhibit some of the most extraordinary work of this kind, the initials being forme'd of complicated interlaced patterns, and ornamented with figures of men, birds, animals, and grotesque deformities. One of the finest specimens of this class is the copy of the Gospels known as the Book of Kells. in the library of Trinity college, Dublin; it dates from the 7th century. The early Franco-Gallic manuscripts show a distinct style of illumination of initial letters in arabesque patterns with elegant foliage. In the middle ages colored and gilded designs and illustrations were so common that it was said: Hodie scriptores non aunt scriptores, scd pictores. Miniatures and pictures were early introduced into manuscripts. Pliny says that physicians painted representations of medicinal plants in their treatises, and that Yarro illustrated his biography of emiuent persons with 700 portraits. In the imperial library at Vienna is a Roman calendar with allegorical figures of the months, supposed to have been executed in the first half of the 4th century; and in the same library is a copy of Dioscorides, dating from the beginning of the 6th century, continuing numerous miniatures and illustrations of plants.
There is also a fragment of a Virgil of the 4th century in the Vatican library, which is profusely ornamented with miniatures. The Codex Cottoni-anus Geneseos, the remains of which are in the British museum, had originally 250 miniatures, each about four inches square. This manuscript, winch contained fragments of the Old and the New Testament in 165 quarto leaves, is said by tradition to have belonged to Origen in the'first half of the 3d century, hut it is now ascribed to the 6th century. It was almost entirely destroyed at the burning of the Cottonian library in 1731. In the Am-brosian library in Milan is a part of a very ancient copy of the Iliad illustrated with miniatures. The Persians. Hindoos, Chinese, and other eastern nations illuminated their manuscripts, but no very ancient specimens are known to be extant. Some of the Arab manuscripts are remarkable for the beauty of their arabesque ornamentation, and for the absence of any representations of living figures, the painting of which is forbidden by the Koran. - The most ancient manuscripts extant are the papyrus rolls from the tombs of Egypt, where the dryness of the climate and of the sand beneath which they were buried preserved them in an almost perfect condition for thousands of years.
They may be considered under two general heads, the Egyptian proper and the Greek. Of the former three classes are found, written respectively in the hieroglyphic, the hieratic, and the demotic or enchorial characters. The first are mostly hooks of a religious and moral character, the most common one being the ritual of the dead. Hieratic manuscripts contain the great body of Egyptian literature. One of the oldest known is the Prisse papyrus in the national library at Paris, a moral treatise written by Prince Ptah-hotepof the 5th dynasty, the beginning of which is placed by Marietteat 3951 B.C. Manuscripts in the demotic character, consisting principally of contracts, bills of sale, accounts, letters, etc., are found dating from the beginning of the 9th century B.C to about the 2d century A. I). (See Egypt, Language and Litera-ture of.) The Greek papyrus manuscripts found in Egypt are of two classes: books proper, written in uncial letters, and public and private documents, in cursive characters. Among the oldest specimens of the first class extant are fragments of treatise on rhetoric and a part of the 13th book of the Iliad, written in the 3d century B. C, in the national library at Paris and among the papyri recovered from Herculaneurn is a fragment of a treatise on music by Plnlodemus, of the 1st century B. C. Among the oldest cursive manuscripts is a petition to Ptolemy Philometor, written in the 2d century B.C., also in Paris. - The invention of parchment is usually ascribed to the reign of Eumenes II., king of Pergamus, in the 2d century 13. C, but manuscript rolls of brown leather of the 14th dynasty have been found in the Egyptian tombs, and rolls of white parchment made more than 1,000 years before Eumenes are preserved in the British museum.
A recently discovered leather manuscript of the ritual of the dead, written in black and red hieratic characters, is now in the Berlin museum. It is ascribed to the 18th dynasty. Of parchment manuscripts made since the beginning of the Christian era, probably the most ancient one in existence is the palimpsest of Cicero's De Republica in the Vatican library, supposed by its discoverer, Cardinal Mai, to have been written in the 2d or 3d century. (See Palimpsest.) It contains 302 pages, and is written in double columns of 15 lines each, in fine Roman uncials, with no division of words. Over it is St. Augustine's commentary on the Psalms. In the library of Verona is a palimpsest Virgil of the 3d or 4th century, with the Gregorian commentary on Job written over it in a script of the 8th century. The same library possesses the celebrated palimpsest of the 4th century, containing the greater part of the Institutes of Gains, overwritten with a copy of the letters of St. Jerome. A palimpsest in the British museum contains, under fragments of the sermons of St. Chrysostom, written in Sy-riac, the only extant portion of the annals of Licinianus, in uncial characters of the 4th century.
In the Vatican are a Terence of the 4th or 5th century and a fragment of a Sal-lust of the 5th. The Laurentian library of Florence possesses the celebrated Medicean Virgil, the most perfect of the ancient copies existing, wanting only a part of the Bucolics. It contains 440 leaves, is written on both sides, and the first three lines of each book are in vermilion. It belongs to the 4th or 5th century. - No authentic manuscripts or fragments of manuscripts of the Bible of the first three centuries are known to exist. The Codex Si-naiticus, which was obtained by Tischendorf in 1859 from the convent of St. Catharine on Mt. Sinai, and is now in the imperial library at St. Petersburg, is generally conceded to have been written about the middle of the 4th century. Tischendorf considers it not improbable that it is one of the 50 copies of the Scriptures which the emperor Constantine in the year 331 directed to he made for Byzantium, under the care of Eusebius of Caesarea. It consists of 345 1/2 leaves of very fine vellum, made probably from the skins of antelopes or of asses, each leaf being 14 7/8 inches high by 13 1/2 inches wide.
The writing on each page is in four columns (excepting in the poetical books of the Old Testament, where there are but two), each containing 48 lines of from 12 to 14 letters each. The characters are well executed uncials, unconnected with each other, without spaces between the words, with no large initial letters, no breathings nor accents, and with few marks of punctuation. The first line of each of the psalms and of the other poetical books is in red ink. It contains both the Old and the New Testament, the latter perfect. The Codex Vaticamis, a manuscript of the Greek Bible, deficient in some parts of the New Testament, is also ascribed to about the middle of the 4th century, although Teschendorf considers the evidence not quite so conclusive as in the case of the Sinaiticus. Its early history is not known, but it appears in the first catalogue of the Vatican library in 1475. It is a quarto volume, 10^ inches high, 10 broad, and 4 1/2, thick, and is bound in red morocco; contains 146 leaves of fine thin vellum, has three columns of 42 lines each to the page, and is written in elegant uncials, somewhat smaller than those of the Sinaiticus, with no spaces between the words.
As originally written, it had no large capital letters and no breathings nor accents; but capital letters in blue or red, three fourths of an inch high, have been added at the beginning of each book by a later corrector, who also put in the breathings and accents, and probably the stops. Of the Biblical manuscripts of the 5th century, the Codex Alexandrians of the British museum, containing nearly the whole of the Greek Bible, is the most important. It is in four quarto volumes, with pages 18 inches high by 10 broad, has two columns of 50 lines each to the page, and is written in uniform uncials, with the first three or four lines of each book in red letters. It differs from the Sinaiticus and the Vatica-nus in having large initial letters. Scholars are generally agreed in ascribing it to the middle of the 5th century. (See Alexandrian Codex.) Of the same century is the Ephraem palimpsest of the national library in Paris. It is about the size of the Codex Alexandrians, though not quite so high, and has 209 leaves, of which 64 contain fragments of the Septua-gint and 145 various parts of the New Testament. The original text, which was partly erased in the 12th century to make room for the writings of Ephraem "Syrus, is in elegant uncials, without division of words or chapters, and with but one column to the page, consisting of from 40 to 46 lines.
The Codex Bezee or Cantabrigiensis, in the library of the university of Cambridge, belongs to the 6th century. It is a Greek manuscript, with a Latin translation on the opposite pages, of the four Gospels and Acts, with a number of pages missing. It is a quarto volume of 414 leaves, with pages 10 inches high by 8 wide, and written stichometricallv in a single column of 33 lines to the page. The first three lines of each book are in red ink. The characters are uncials, and the words are undivided. (See Beza's Codex.) Among the fragments of manuscripts of this century, one of the most interesting is the Codex Purpureus, four leaves of which are in the British museum, six in the Vatican, and two in the imperial library at Vienna. Tischendorf found 33 additional leaves in the island of Patmos. It is written in silver letters, now quite black from age (the names of God and Christ in gold), on very thin purple vellum, and has two columns of 16 lines each to the page. The characters are large Greek uncials, written without division of words. Among the oldest and most important of the cursive Greek manuscripts of the New Testament is the Codex Basilensis, in the library of Basel, ascribed to the 10th century.
It has one column of 3s lines to each page, and is written in small elegant characters, with breathings, accents, iota subscripts, and a few illuminations, among which are portraits of the emperor Leo the Philosopher and his son Constantine Porphyro-genitus. The Codex Jiuber, a cursive manuscript containing fragments of the New Testament, in the national library at Paris, is written entirely in red ink; it belongs to the 10th or 11th century. Of the manuscripts of the Latin Bible, the Codex Amiatinus, in the Lau-rentian library at Florence, is the most important. It derives its name from the Cistercian monastery of Monte Amiato, in Tuscany, where it was owned previous to its acquisition by the Laurentian library. From intrinsic evidence it is supposed to have been written about 541 by Servandus, abbot of the Benedictine monastery near Alatri, on the borders of Latium. It consists of 1,029 leaves, of which 796 are devoted to the Old Testament and 232 to the New. It is written in well formed Roman uncials, and has two columns to the page, each having in general 43 lines stichometri-cally arranged. The first line of each book is rubricated.
Other renowned manuscripts of the same century are a Virgil in the Vatican, a Prudentius, the sermons of St. Augustine on papyrus, the psalter of St. Gernmin-des-Pres in silver letters, and a copy of the Theo-dosian code, all in the national library at Paris; the unique copy of the fifth decade of Livy, in the imperial library at Vienna: a Lactantius and the breviary of Alaric at Bo-logna; and a palimpsest containing 4,000 lines of the Iliad in the British museum. The celebrated manuscript of the Digest of Justinian too, in the Laurentian library at Florence, belongs probably to the close of the 6th century. - The science'of reading and judging ancient manuscripts is called diplomatics, and is a branch of palaeography. In examining a manuscript in order to judge of its antiquity, it is necessary to consider the quality and character of the material on which it is written; the style of the writing; the inks used; its miniatures, vignettes, and arabesques, and the colors with which they are executed; the cover, its material and ornamentation; and the character of the contents. The oldest Greek and Latin manuscripts are written in square capital letters, without division of words or sentences, and without punctuation.
This style was in use until about the 6th century, when it was superseded by uncial writing, which had coexisted with it from the 3d century. A kind of capitals called rustics, having the letters slightly inclined, were used however until a much later time. Uncials differ from pure capitals in having some of the letters, particularly A, D, E, and M, curved. The most of the extant Greek and Latin manuscripts written between the 4th and 6th centuries are in uncial characters; but from the 6th to the close of the 8th century semi-uncial writing, a mixture of small and capital letters, came gradually into use, and led eventually to the small cursive or minuscule writing of the 10th century. These remarks apply more particularly to book manuscripts, for Greek cursives were used in letters and documents before the Christian era. Latin cursives were introduced into book manuscripts as early as the 4th century. In the oldest manu-scripts the characters are written separately each from another, and there are no divisions into words or sentences', nor distinction of initial letters. Abbreviations early came into use.
At first they were limited to principal words, such as names of the Deity; but in time, particularly in the 12th and 13th centuries, they became so common as to render many manuscripts almost unintelligible. Many of these abbreviations are arbitrary signs derived from the so-called Notae Tironianm. or Roman svs-tern of shorthand, ascribed by some to the invention of Tiro, the freedman of Cicero. A line is generally drawn above each abbreviated word to denote contraction. When the period or dot came into use, it was placed generally above, not in the line; the comma was introduced about the close of the 10th century, and marks of interrogation and exclamation and parentheses about the 15th century. The repetition at the foot of each page of the first word of the following page belongs to the 12th and subsequent centuries. The Arabic numerals first appear in writing near the beginning of the 12th century. - The most important works on manuscripts and palaeography are: Mabil-lon. be Re Diplomatica (Paris, 1681); Mont-faucon, Palaeographia Graeca (Paris, 1708), and Bibliotheca Bibliothecarum Manuscriptorum Nora (2 vols., 17:5!)); Maffei, Tstoria diplomatica, etc. (Mantua, 1727); Baring, Claris Diplomatica (Hanover, 1737-'54); Toussaint and Tussin, Nouteau traite de diplomatique, pirdeuxjdigieux benedictins, (fee. (6 vols. 4to Paris 1750 '65); Vaines, Dictionnaire rai-tonnt de, dipfomttique (2 vols. 8vo, Paris, 1773-4) Astle, "Origin and Progress of Writing" (London, 1784); Kopp, Palceographica Criti-ta (4 vols., Mannheim, 1817-2!)); Ebert, Zur Handschriftenkunde (2 vols., Leipsic, 1825-'7); Wailly, Elements de paleograpMe (2 vols 4to Pans, 1838) Silvestre, Paleographie univtr-selle. fat-similes, with descriptions by Cham-polhon-Figeac and Aimo Champollion (4 vols i fob, Paris, 1839-45); Marini, Diplomatica pontificia (Rome, 1841); Westwood, Palaso-grapfiia Sacra Pictoria (London, 1845); Chas-sant, Dictionnaire des abreviations latines et francaises vsitees dans les manuscrits . . . du moyen age (Evreux, 1844; 3d ed., Paris, 1866); and Wattenbach, Anleitung zur griechischen Paldographie (Leipsic, 1867).